Foreign Governments Sucking Up to Trump Spent Lavishly at His DC Hotel

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A $9,000 bill for coffee—for a foreign leader under DOJ investigation—was just the start.

It was no secret during the Trump presidency that if you wanted to curry favor you should stay at Donald Trump’s swanky and controversial hotel when you were in Washington, D.C. In fact, at least 31 foreign governments booked rooms at the hotel during his time in office—and as the majority owner of the hotel (his adult children owned small shares) that was money that went straight into his pocket. Now, further details of just how lavishly foreign governments spent—often at crucial times for the causes they were taking up with the White House—are starting to emerge. 

According to a letter released on Monday by the Congressional House Committee on Government Oversight, six countries in particular—Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, China, Qatar and Turkey—all of which had complicated relationships with the United States, ran up at least $750,000 in bills at the Trump’s D.C. hotel. This happened  at “sensitive times,” according to the letter, when they were seeking diplomatic favor from the White House. And, the letter notes, that doesn’t count tens of thousands of dollars more that lobbyists for those countries spent during those same periods. 

The letter is a request from the committee to the National Archives and Records Administration seeking details from Trump administration records to find out if the White House might have been swayed by the spending. 

The standout example in the committee’s report is a stay by Najib Razak, then the prime minister of Malaysia, who visited the White House on Sept. 17, 2017. Razak’s trip came in the midst of a massive Department of Justice investigation into whether he had participated in the multi-billion dollar looting of 1MDB, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund. Set up by Razak in 2009, the fund collapsed as it was revealed that more than $4.5 billion had been embezzled from it—and in 2016, the DOJ indicated that prosecutors believed Razak had personally been responsible for personally pocketing as much as $731 million. 

Despite this serious scandal and ongoing investigation, Trump invited Razak to visit the White House. Razak took him up on the offer and for the week prior to his visit, he stayed at the Trump hotel, where his delegation ran up a $259,724 bill. It included more than $9,000 on coffee, $8,000 on room-service lunches, and $1,500 on a personal trainer. 

The Oversight Committee’s letter notes that at least two Americans who later pleaded guilty to charges of illegally lobbying Trump on behalf of the Malaysian government—Elliott Broidy, a California businessman and top fundraiser for Trump’s 2016 campaign, and Nickie Lum Davis, another GOP fundraiser—both paid to stay at the hotel during the same time period. 

“To attempt to individually track and distinctly attribute certain business-related costs as specifically identifiable to a particular customer group is not practical, nor would it even be possible without an inordinate amount of time, resources and specialists,” the pamphlet stated.

The pamphlet also warned hotel management against prying too deeply when determining if customers were representatives of foreign governments, because “putting forth a policy that requires all guests to identify themselves would impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of our brand.”

Other notable expenditures detailed in the committee’s letter include heavy spending (described as at least $164,000) by government officials from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—while the two countries were seeking support for a blockade they had imposed against regional rival Qatar. At the same time, Qatari officials and connected companies spent at least $307,000. 

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